Content theft

I know I’m not the first, and I’m not going to be the last. From time to time, people will experience that someone borrows an image, or borrows a text from you.
Usually, I do not mind. But I would like to get credit for work I have done, and more importantly asked permission, and not being subjected to pure bandwith theft.
My Norwegian weblog is running on a cheap web hosting solution where I have a traffic limitation of only 500MB per month. Many of you may know that this means my webspace provider may either block access to my website if this limit is reached. Or they might charge me for any traffic exceeding 500MB. Neither are tempting options.
As I am writing this, I am also intermittently updating the statistics for that site, and what I’m seeing is a relatively continous stream of accesses to just one image. All with the same external referer. Someone is using an image from my site, that they display on their own site, pretending it to be their own image.
The image in question, is (or rather was, I’ll return to this later) a personal image. An image of my girlfriend one day I saw her in a particularily Warholish way. I do not mind people seeing this image.
But, this being a personal image, I am not likely to permit any use of it beyond people watching it in context, on my site. And I am definetly not going to permit any sort of bandwith theft.
So, I’ve had to defend myself. This is the aforementioned was. I have replaced the image with a replacement image. This replacement image contains this textual message: The image you are seeing is just a placeholder image because the site you are currently viewing stole both the original image and bandwith from my server. Details at antibiomatika.net/theft/ – Prevent theft!.
The page contains any currently known hotlinking sites, and some notes about them, and a message on how to be removed. It’s as easy as this: Remove the hotlink to my image, and notify me at the webmaster address.
A couple of questions springs to mind: Am I being too severe by having a live blacklist of current offenders? Should I block and list known offenders before sending a cease and decist mail?
For the time being, I believe the answer to both is no. I have a right to defend my bandwith. If the projected traffic the first offender I noticed had kept up, it would have generated around 80MB of unwanted traffic every month.
Another question to which I have no answer yet: Is blacklisting and publicly listing offenders an effective measure?
Addendum: Before anyone else wants to notify me of the obvious mod_rewrite solution. No. The webspace provider does not support mod_rewrite at all on that particular server, and they aren’t planning to add it at this time.

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3 Comments

  1. Instead of whining via an image (that is still being hotlinked), why not actually stop it? ( http://www.websiteowner.info/tutorials/server/bandwidththeft.asp )
    [Comment edited to reflect link to site explaining mod_rewrite for prevention of hotlinking. Arve ]

  2. Well, for that web space, my provider does not *support* mod_rewrite. Had it been so, I would ofcourse have used it.
    However, replacing the image seemed to be just as effective for me in this case. AFAICT, they have removed the hotlink from my site.

  3. Found your page doing a search with the words ‘website content theft.’ I too am a victim of this crime. In my case, both original images/graphics & entire articles I have written are being stolen. As I make my living as a writer & graphic designer/webmaster, the thieves are literally stealing money out of my wallet. I have published their names & addresses on my website. But somehow, nothing less than smashing their skulls in with a baseball bat is likely to satisfy me. Good to see that you’re fighting back. The people who don’t think content theft is a problem either do not maintain websites or are thieves themselves.